I Take a Convention Newb to Megacon

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By: Scott Muller

I’ve attended at least a dozen conventions over the years and when I thought about writing an article covering my latest convention trip, I figured I’d need a way to make it a little different than my previous convention reviews. Then it hit me – what if I took someone to the convention that had never been to a comic (or any similar) type of convention before? That might make for an interesting day.

It turns out, it was an interesting day. After pinging a bunch of my friends, I finally hit upon someone who had never been to a convention before: my coworker Jessie. She was game for joining me at MegaCon Tampa Bay, so we were ready to go.

Before we attended the convention, I asked Jessie a few questions to gauge her “Nerdiness Quotient.” Jessie, who considers herself a seven on a one-to-ten nerdiness scale, is an avid reader who prefers memoirs, novels, and non-fiction to comics and graphic novels. Her other nerdier indulgences include documentaries, coloring, and attending educational classes and seminars. She’s not really into the stereotypical nerdy things like comics, video games, zombies, and superheroes, but she’d hear of about half of the celebrity guests, including William Shatner, Kevin Smith, and the kids from Stranger Things, which she did admit to watching. I asked her before the convention what she expected from the event and she (correctly) predicted that it would be crowded, with long lines for certain guests. She was interested in who the attendees would gravitate towards, seeing what was available to buy, and what folks would be cosplaying as.



In hindsight, we should have attended the convention on Friday, because unlike most conventions, that was when the most interesting stuff was happening. On Friday, the convention hosted an auction with Kevin Smith as the auctioneer. While Smith earned $6,000 for a cameo in his upcoming reboot of the Jay and Silent Bob franchise, the real star of the show was Stan Lee, who auctioned off autographed items, a one-on-one dinner, and a trip to Los Angeles to spend the day with him. The dinner earned $3,000 and the trip and day with Stan earned $10,000. Overall, the auction raised around $25,000 for Feeding Florida.

Jessie and I, however, opted to attend on Saturday. We arrived bright and early to the convention, which was surprisingly far less busy than its Orlando sibling.



We got our schedule and didn’t really see anything that was calling out to us, so we decided to peruse the convention floor. Jessie was armed with a list of things her two kids were fans of, including Batman, The Flash, Pokémon, and Mr. Fantastic from Fantastic Four. I’m not usually one that shops for anything more than books, t-shirts, and art, but when you’re really looking, you realize there are a lot of different things for sale at a convention outside of the usual comic books and action figures. Jessie stopped at dozens of booths to look at things like pillows, handmade bow ties, key chains, lanyards, and hats, among other things. I don’t think most people realize the depth and breadth of things that are available at a comic convention like MegaCon. People are selling board games they’ve created, books they’ve written, and even crocheted human hearts. I wish I had taken a picture of that.

I also ran across one of my favorite local authors, Russell James, who, I previously interviewed for this site. I picked up two of his new novels and chatted for a moment. That’s another cool thing about conventions: you get to interact with folks you might not get to interact with, like authors or make-up artists or independent filmmakers. It’s really a more interesting and varied group than the “comic book geeks” that most people think attend these types of events.

As the day progressed, I realized that even someone like Jessie, who by her own admission, doesn’t dabble in things you think you’ll find at a stereotypical comic convention, found things to get excited about. She smiled with glee taking pictures with Chewbacca and Darth Vader and got a chuckle posing with Barf from Spaceballs. I think one thing that I realized spending the day with a con newb is that there’s pretty much something that everyone “geeks out” about. Whether it’s video games, superheroes, zombies, Star Wars, Star Trek, time travel, outer space, action-adventure movies, wrestling, or even Bob Ross (who’s experiencing a renaissance in the nerd world)…there’s an audience that’s passionate enough about it to be considered a geek or a nerd.



The high point of my day came in meeting some last-minute additions to the guest list. At the end of the tattoo artist aisle were former WWE and WCW tag team champions The Nasty Boys. I got to chat with them for a bit, and they even took me on a trip to “Pitty City.” Those of you who watched wrestling in the 80s and 90s will totally understand; those of you who didn’t can refer to the following picture.



After about five hours, we were getting a little tired, and the food options weren’t super great inside the convention center, so we headed out. Again, nothing on the convention schedule was really catching our eye, so we decided to call it a day. There was a good selection of food trucks outside, which was nice, but we opted to head a little further afield (and someplace with air conditioning) for our “debrief” lunch.

All in all, I can say that Jessie enjoyed the convention. I’m glad, for both of our sakes, that it wasn’t as crowded as some other conventions I’ve attended. I think that’s the key to convincing someone to come to a convention: find one that’s not as crowded and take them on an “off” day, like Friday or Sunday. I think most people will be surprised (and sometimes shocked) at the creativity people put into costumes and the sheer number of things that fall under the “nerdy” umbrella. All in all, it was a day well spent. As for me, I would have liked a few more celebrity guests and a few more of the more mainstream vendors; I don’t think there were more than two or three t-shirt vendors and there was a pretty scant selection of authors, aside from the comic book variety. Since it was still hot and we were in Florida, this convention didn’t have the same cosplay presence as the Orlando version of MegaCon, which is odd because that convention is in May, which is just as hot (if not hotter).

Anyway, my minor gripes aside, the day was a fun one and the convention raised over $30,000 (including the auction and proceeds from ticket sales) for Feeding Florida. It was good to take part in something that did some real good for people who really needed it.

Oh, and I hope I created a convention fan for life…fingers crossed!


    One Comment

  1. DaniOctober 12th, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Oh my gosh! As someone who has been trying to get to any comic con for 6 years, thank you for writing it from someone else’s view! I can’t wait to get to my first con and experience everything!

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